Book by Howard Wheeler adapted from Voltaire
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Richard Wilbur
Additional lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and John LaTouche
Artwork by Elizabeth Paymal

April 15 - 18, 1999
Power Center

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Dan Reichard as Candide

Barrett Foa as Voltaire/Dr. Pangloss

Jessica Murphy as Cunegonde

Courtney Balan as the Old Lady

NickSattinger as the Governor and Joe Harrell as Maximillian

Brittany Brown as Paquette

Jackie Urso, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Melissa Calabrese and Maclain Looper enjoy the Auto de Fe

Eric Jackson presides over it all in Constantinople

Joe, Courtney, Barrett, Jessica, Dan & Brittany backstage!

Candide Press Release - March 29, 1999

If nothing else, Leonard Bernstein's "Candide" is big. Boasting a cast of 42 student actors, more than 100, often fabulous costumes; a pit orchestra of 34 members playing a huge, almost symphonic score; a book that moves this biting satire through 14 separate changes of scene; and a libretto that is filled to the brim with 21 wonderfully distinctive songs, "Candide" is a big, sprawling musical adventure. It requires a stage large enough to meet its singular demands. With this in mind, the University of Michigan's highly regarded Musical Theatre Department will bring this Voltaire-inspired tale to the Power Center stage - the largest theatrical space on the U-of M campus - when it presents Candide for four performances from April 15 through 18.

Candide features a stellar artistic team. Conductor Ben Whiteley comes to Ann Arbor from Broadway, where he is currently the Music Director of Cats. The rest of the artistic staff is composed entirely of U-M faculty members. Brent Wagner directs, Lisa Catrett-Belrose choreographs, and designers Vince Mountain (sets), George Bacon (costumes), Mark Allen Berg (lights), and Roger Arnett (sound) bring this spirited and fast-paced story to life.

The score to "Candide" is one of its most attractive assets. Almost everyone is familiar with its powerful and much celebrated "Overture," perhaps one of the most performed concert pieces in Bernstein's opus, and a staple in the repertoires of symphonies throughout the world. But the songs make this work the brilliant musical satire that it is. The variety is astounding. The score contains waltzes, tangos, ballads, hornpipes and even a "jewel song" - "Glitter and Be Gay" - which requires an almost stratospheric coloratura performance by the actress playing the part of Cunegonde (Jessica Murphy in the U-M production). Critic Tom Donnelly, in his opening night review for the World-Telegram and Sun called the score, "lush, lovely, and electric ... voluptuous as velvet ... frostily pretty as a diamond bell." Conductor Ben Whiteley calls it, "vintage Bernstein at his best!"

This celebrated musical has gone through many incarnations since it first hit the stage in Boston in 1956. After a one-month tryout period, the musical moved to the Martin Beck Theatre on Broadway, where it played for 73 performances. Since that time, the work has received at least eleven separate revisions. The U-M production will use the 1982 New York City Opera adaptation of "Candide," which features a hefty orchestra that highlights Bernstein's brilliant score, but retains the rat-a-tat pacing of an earlier edition - the popular "Chelsea Theatre" version - upon which the City Opera revision was based. The many changes made to Candide over the years reflect both Leonard Bernstein's authorial interests in perfecting his own work, and the interests of different producers who felt a need to adapt - as economically as possible - their theater spaces to the gigantic demands made on them by the musicalŐs book and score. The City Opera version of Candide features a book by Hugh Wheeler, lyrics by Richard Wilbur, Stephen Sondheim and John Latouche, and orchestrations by Leonard Bernstein, Hershey Kay and John Mauceri.

The book for "Candide" is based on a novella published in 1759 by the famous French philosophe Voltaire (Francois Marie Arouet). This brilliant satire challenged the Leibnitzian notion (which Voltaire held in high contempt) that the world we live in represents "the best of all possible worlds." The story's hero is Candide. After receiving a thorough indoctrination in this errant philosophy by the muddle-headed Dr. Pangloss, Candide makes the mistake of kissing the beautiful Cunegonde. Caught in the act, Candide is thrown out onto the street to fend for himself. It is here that the adventure begins. Filled with the philosophy of Dr. Pangloss, yet faced with the emergency of the moment, the wide-eyed innocent embarks on a remarkably wide-ranging journey in search of the truth. His pilgrimage takes him from Westphalia in Germany, to Lisbon in Portugal, to Cartegena and "El Dorado" in the New World, and to a Pasha's palace in Constantinople. In the course of his journey, he experiences war, earthquake, torture and shipwreck. Chastened and matured by these experiences, he is finally brought face-to-face with the truth. The sweep of both the story and the argument is vast. It is little wonder why Voltaire's satire has retained its popularity for almost 250 years.

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